6 Things You Should Never Ignore About Dementia
What Is Dementia?
With millions of people worldwide suffering from dementia, it’s important to understand the dementia definition, dementia stages, and dementia symptoms. Dementia is an umbrella term that covers different causes of memory loss, from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s to Lewy Body Dementia and Vascular Dementia.
While cognitive decline is normal as we age, there must be a combination of cognitive impairments before healthcare providers will consider the possibility of dementia. A mental decline in two or more of either memory, language, behavior, coordination, and organization are some of the cognitive impairments that healthcare providers will look at before looking into the possibility of dementia.
However, there are some symptoms to consider when looking at the possibility of dementia.
What Is Dementia Symptoms?
Unfortunately, dementia doesn’t start quickly. You might think that short-term memory loss or a decrease in focus might just stem from a lack of sleep or nutrition, but dementia slowly progresses over time. Here are three of the common symptoms of dementia.
1. Short Term Memory Loss
No matter how young or old you are, we often suffer from a degree of short-term memory loss with everyday tasks that we pass off as simply being “forgetful.” Short-term memory loss stems from sleep deprivation, nutritional deficiency, head injury, or mood disorders. However, one of the biggest causes of short-term memory loss is dementia.
Simple loss of memory from dementia will interfere with daily activities and, whether you’re considering Alzheimer’s vs dementia for the short-term memory loss symptom, you must keep in mind that it occurs with both.
2. Behavioral or Personality Changes
Slowly, but surely, the people you know, and love will experience almost complete personality changes with later dementia stages. At first, when dementia starts, you’ll notice minor personality changes. More extreme behavioral or personality changes come with Lewy Body Dementia, a type of dementia caused by abnormal protein deposits in the brain that affects nerve cells.
While Lewy Body Dementia causes extreme personality changes, more fluctuating personality changes that can lead to fear and confusion is a symptom of Alzheimer’s. Some of the more common behavioral changes associated with dementia symptoms include paranoia, social withdrawal, apathy, or a complete lack of interest in normal activities.
3. Difficulty Walking
Difficulty walking is associated with all types of dementia, but it’s most common in those with vascular dementia. Vascular dementia is not as common as the other types of dementia, and it’s caused by injury or a restriction of blood flow to the brain. Often, vascular dementia is confused with Alzheimer’s and can affect a person’s gait, balance, and ability to walk.
Confusion and disorientation can cause falls, which can worsen dementia and other health conditions. A condition associated with dementia is known as apraxia and often requires a mobility aid to move around, such as a wheelchair or a walking cane.
What Causes Dementia?
Now that we know some of the symptoms of dementia, let’s look at some of the common causes:
Alcohol causes a type of dementia known as alcoholic dementia and is the only type that doesn’t progressively get worse if dementia treatment is started early.
Alzheimer’s Disease is regarded as the most common cause of dementia due to the build-up of harmful proteins around the cells of the brain.
Vascular disorders, that can lead to vascular dementia, are caused by concussions, accidents, alcohol use, or a buildup of brain fluid.
How To Prevent Dementia?
There’s no known way to prevent dementia completely but you can reduce the risk of it by exercising, keeping healthy blood pressure, quitting smoking, stopping alcohol use, and following a healthy diet.
Dementia Risk Factors
Those at higher risk of dementia are senior citizens over the age of 65, people who have dementia that runs in their family, a sedentary lifestyle, and untreated mood disorders.
What Is the Difference Between Dementia and Alzheimer’s?
Often, people wonder about dementia vs Alzheimer’s, and others believe the two are the same. Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia, but someone with dementia may not have Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, Alzheimer’s, while being under the umbrella of dementia, is one of the main causes of it.
Regardless of your gender, ethnicity, or background, dementia can affect everyone. It’s important to pay attention to signs of progressive cognitive deterioration and seek medical attention if you or a loved one feel they may be suffering from dementia.